Friday, May 29, 2009

How to Dispose of Dead Dogs and Cats in Rural Taiwan

Last week a friend told me of seeing a dead cat being hung in a bag from a tree on their street. Without me saying anything, that same week a teacher related a Taiwanese saying of disposing of dead dogs by throwing their bodies in rivers or streams, while hanging dead cats in trees:  死貓吊樹頭  死狗放水流。

影像016 Well,it’s not just a saying! This morning  I saw another dead cat in a bag dangling from a tree this morning while prayer walking in my teammate’s community.

Just now I googled “dead cat”, “dog” and “Taiwan” where I found, written in 1998, the article  Humankind and Catkind--The Evolution of a Relationship:

Another custom which reflects the bad image cats had in the past is "hanging dead cats from a tree." In some places in the Taiwan countryside, it has been the tradition that cats are not buried after death to rest in peace, but are hung by the neck in the woods. Oddly enough, this is said to be due to the purring sound cats make when they are feeling content. Shin Dai says that people from her small hometown think purring is the sound of troubled breathing, indicating that cats carry illness. Therefore, after a cat dies they insist on tying a rope around its neck to prevent the germs from getting out.

There are still people in rural central and southern Taiwan who hold these beliefs-which arose to try to protect people's health but, ironically, are now seen as unhealthy superstitions of people from the sticks. In March of this year, the China Youth Corps undertook a survey (at the behest of the Environmental Protection Administration) in which they discovered more than 20 instances of "hanging dead cats from a tree and putting dead dogs in the river" in villages within a five-minute bus ride of the city of Changhua. Overall, in two months of field work, they discovered 214 such cases in various towns and villages, most of which were in Changhua, followed by Yunlin and Tainan counties.

1 comment:

Amrita said...

tound that very interesting.

but the cats must stink this way. how do they bear that. plenty of germs floating down the tree.

Here we bury